FR3FC-The French Caribbean: Language, Literature and Identity

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Julia Waters


Summary module description:

Some of the most exciting and innovative literature written in French in recent years comes not from France, but from France's former colonies around the world. This module aims to introduce students to the diversity of francophone expression, through the study of a selection of twentieth-century works from the French DOMs of the Caribbean, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Focusing primarily on analysis of literary texts, the unit will also examine these texts in relation to theoretical debates on the nature of French colonisation and its legacy, and the construction of postcolonial identities.

Assessable learning outcomes:
Students who complete this module successfully will be able to:

  • analyse and compare a range of francophone texts from the Caribbean
  • demonstrate an understanding of the terms 'francophone' and 'postcolonial'
  • develop an informed understanding of the interrelation of issues of language, literature and identity in the French Caribbean
  • demonstrate an awareness of the context of slavery, French colonisation and their legacies
  • situate the novels studied within their broader historical and theoretical contexts
  • develop their own critical responses to literary texts.

Additional outcomes:
This module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and pair/ group presentation skills, as well as enabling students to develop their reading, analytical and interpretative skills in relation to literary French.

Outline content:
The module will consider: the history of slavery, French colonisation, the sugar plantations, decolonisation, domination; the role of language and literature in the construction of postcolonial identities; figures of resistance, including le conteur and le nègre marron; identity theories such as négritude and créolité; linguistic inventiveness and subversion. Primary texts to be studied are: Aimé Césaire: Cahier d'un retour au pays natal; Patrick Chamoiseau: L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse; Raphaël Confiant: Mamzelle Libellule; Maryse Condé: Victoire, les saveurs et les mots. Key secondary texts include Bernabé, Chamoiseau and Confiant: Eloge de la créolité and Chamoiseau: Ecrire en pays dominé.

Global context:
Given the Caribbean's history of slavery, colonisation and indenture, and its present-day realities of migration and globalisation, the issues tackled in this module are profoundly global in reach and nature. The module examines the French nation and language in a historical and contemporary context that extends well beyond the limits of the Hexagon. Both primary texts and the theoretical works studied grapple with the quintessentially global dilemmas of constructing postcolonial identity construction and resisting linguistic and cultural hegemony.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The course will be taught in the Autumn and Spring terms in fortnightly, two-hour classes: a mix of lectures, group seminars, video viewings, and student presentations. Lectures will provide students with important contextual information and key concepts, as well as an introduction to each of the writers studied, their works and main ideas. The lecturer will also allot weekly assignments, to guide the students own study, and will provide advice on these. As a final year module, however, students will be expected to read the texts on their own, and to draw their own, informed comparisons and contrasts.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 6 6
Seminars 6 6
Project Supervision 2 2
Supervised time in studio/workshop 1 1
Guided independent study 57 57 56
Total hours by term 72.00 72.00 56.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
1)One group presentation, addressing a question on one of the set texts. (Students should provide a handout and/or copy of Powerpoint slides.)

Relative percentage of group presentation: 10%

2)One coursework essay, of 2,500 – 3,000 words, in answer to a question on one of the set texts (but not on the same text as the presentation). Essays (on Césaire or Confiant) to be submitted EITHER after the Christmas OR (on Chamoiseau or Condé) after the Easter vacation.

Relative percentage of essay: 30%

Formative assessment methods:
The lecturer will allot weekly assignments, to guide the students' own study, and will provide advice on them. All classes are essentially interactive, so allowing students to practise and improve on the analytical skills that will need to be assessed. Although the small-group presentations on each of set texts are assessed, they only count for 10% of the overall mark. Extensive guidance is given on how to prepare and conduct the presentation. Detailed oral and written feedback is also given, which is formative as well as summative.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour examination, taken in the Summer Term. The examination paper requires two questions to be answered: one comparative essay and one commentary. (You must not reproduce substantially material which you have already included in your group presentation, coursework essay or other exam essay.)

    Relative percentage of examination: 60%

    Requirements for a pass:

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Reassessment in August, in the event of failure in this module and of failure in the degree as a whole. Coursework for reassessment must be resubmitted by 1PM on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed on the third Friday of August, at 1PM on the next working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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